Anyone who knew Holly Clegg knew she loved to eat.

For our friend, who succumbed to stomach cancer on Nov. 1, Thanksgiving was a particularly special time of year when family and friends gathered around a full table.

But, as enticing as the turkey and side dishes were, Holly always said the meal was never complete without pecan pie, one of her very favorite desserts.

Holly, however, did not stop with traditional pecan pie. She loved to add Louisiana's favorite nut to other pies, too.  

Always health conscious, Holly would make wholesome versions of these pies, promising "your family won’t be able to tell the difference because there’s no sacrifice in flavor." 

Don't change what you make, she would say, just change how you make it.

This week we have recipes for three of Holly's favorite pecan pies. The Chocolate Pecan Pie comes from her "Gulf Coast Favorites" cookbook, and combines rich chocolate with pecan pie for the ultimate finish to your holiday meal. And, because Holly didn't think you should have to spend hours in the kitchen, she even used a store-bought crust.

Holly always said she had a hard time deciding between pecan pie and sweet potato pie, so she captured the flavors of both in one incredible dessert — Yam Pecan Pie in Gingersnap Crust. And, yes, she knew there is a difference between yams and sweet potatoes, but, like most of us, she used the terms interchangeably.

The third pie, Oatmeal Pecan Pie, gets its delicious hearty flavor from old-fashioned oatmeal. "Trust me," Holly would say, "you will find yourself going back for seconds!"

All three of these pies can be made ahead of time. Whip them up this week and freeze them so there will be less stress next week when holiday time comes. 

And, just in case pecan pie isn't your thing, Holly suggested satisfying your sweet tooth with her Yam Chocolate Spice Bars. You can find the recipe at her thehealthycookingblog.com. This bar cookie, made with a spice cake mix, is the perfect party pickup or after-dinner dessert.

Terrific Tips:

  • Pecans are rich in nutrition — antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and a great source of plant protein.
  • Pecans are packed with vitamin E, which can help prevent cell damage.
  • To make the gingersnap crust, put cookies in food processor or blender to make fine crumbs.
  • 1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes (yams) drained and mashed equals 1 cup.
  • If using a refrigerated pie crust (the kind that unfolds), first coat the pie plate with nonstick cooking spray so pieces will remove easily.

Holly Clegg, best-selling national cookbook author of the trim&TERRIFIC & Eating Well cookbook series, specializes in easy, healthy, everyday recipes. Visit her website, The Healthy Cooking Blog. Follow her on facebook.com/HollyClegginstagram.com/holly_clegg and twitter.com/hollyclegg. Email her at holly@hollyclegg.com.